STILLWATER — On one play, the Oklahoma State defense showed its strength and speed.
On the other, it got a couple lucky bounces.
The Cowboys didn't necessarily need those two fumbles — one that Jamie Blatnick recovered and returned 59 yards to the Oklahoma one-yard line and another that Richetti Jones scooped up for a five-yard touchdown — in their dominating 44-10 victory over the Sooners Saturday night at Boone Pickens Stadium.
But they electrified a crowd that later tore down both goal posts in celebration. They signaled that the rout was on. They were the standout plays that helped OSU to cruise to its first outright conference championship and first victory over the rival Sooners since 2002.
And Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said they helped make a final statement that the Cowboys deserve to play in the national title game.
“After what they accomplished tonight and the way they did it against the No. 10 team in the country, I don't think there's any question they deserve an opportunity to play for it all,” Gundy said.
At worst, OSU has earned a trip to the Fiesta Bowl as the Big 12 champions. But the Cowboys will find out Sunday night if their dominance of the Sooners sways enough voters to boost them past Alabama.
The Cowboys forced five turnovers, but Blatnick's scoop and scamper in the second quarter turned the momentum for good and Richetti's recovery in the added style points needed when fighting the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings.
On third-and-six from the OSU 19, Sooner quarterback Landry Jones rolled to his right and plowed by Alex Elkins. The ball popped free, and Blatnick rumbled down the sideline until he was caught by OU's Trent Ratterree at the one-yard line. On the next play, Joseph Randle took the ball into the end zone to give the Cowboys a 17-0 lead.
“I just ran a straight line,” Blatnick said. “I hurt my hip earlier, but there was no way I was sitting out the conference championship. I should have laid out, but Randle probably needed the rushing touchdown and I'm a team player.”
Richetti Jones then pushed the score to 34-3 when he — eventually — corralled a ball that slipped out of Landry Jones' hand as he brought it back to throw. Richetti bobbled the ball, kicked it, bobbled it again and then caught it in the end zone.
“I had mentioned to our defense that this was an opportunity for them to shine,” Gundy said. “(They'd) be on the big stage, in the spotlight. They had taken some heat throughout the year, and if they wanted to prove to people (that) just half of what I said during the season was right, then they needed to do it tonight.”
The Cowboy rushing attack amassed 278 yards, with Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith scoring two touchdowns apiece.
OSU now has no control over how the final BCS standings will shake up. But Blatnick had an argument after the game that could apply to both the often-maligned Cowboy defense and their case to play for the national title.
“Look at the wins,” he said. “That's the stat that counts.